Alphabet Activities

Letter recognition is one of the best predictors of reading success. Automatic recognition of letters gives a strong indication of how quickly a student will be able to learn the sounds of letters and ultimately read and spell. For students who have not yet attained instant letter recognition and letter-sound correspondence 5-20 minutes daily of Alphabet Activities is recommended.

The following activities work on instant letter recognition, the sounds of the letters, the application of sounds to letters for reading and spelling, the alphabet as a sequencing tool, and dictionary use. The activities can be done with capital or lower case letters and mats unless otherwise indicated.

Large and Small Group Activities:


1. Name Those Letters
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool.
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Student places the writing finger on A on the arc and echoes the letters after the teacher as s/he points to each letter. This activity is done daily at the beginning of all alphabet activities. It is a warm-up.

2. Sign Those Letters (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Capital letter alphabet mat
Activity: Students signs the letters of the alphabet using the signs provided on the capital letter mat. Introduce 2-3 signs during a lesson and review those already learned.
Extension: Randomly call out letters and student signs the letter.


3. Chugging Choo-choo
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Student places the writing finger on A on the arc of the mat and echoes the letters after the teacher while pointing to each letter. Ask student to place the pointer finger on Z and put his/her engine in reverse. Student touches and names the letters starting with Z and going backwards to A. Repeat 2 times.


4. Run-away Train
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Student places the index finger of his/her writing hand on A. Student points to each letter while naming the letter. To prevent having a “run-away-train,” hold up a stop sign or say, “stop” during the activity. The student stops and then starts again touching and naming when the teacher/leader says, “go” or lowers the STOP sign.


5. Show Me
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Student places the writing finger on A on the arc on the mat and echoes the letters after the teacher as s/he points to each letter. Ask student to “Show Me a.” Repeat with 5-7 letters. Go as quickly or slowly as the student needs to go. If students are having difficulty, pair weaker and stronger students for this activity.


6. Pinky Point:
(back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Using the pinky finger of the writing hand, student points and names the letters of the alphabet. The rules are same as Simon Says. Students only move to a new letter if the teacher says, “Pinky point.” If s/he moves and the teacher did not say, “Pinky point”, the student is out. Ex. Pinky point to a. (The students move pinkies to a.) Point to g. (The students don’t move their pinkies because Pinky did not say to move.)

7. Before and After (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Ask student to put both arms in the air above their heads. Demonstrate with your back to the student that the right hand is the after hand. Have student lower his/her right arms as they say, “My right hand is my after hand.” Ask student to form the pointer fingers of both hands into a pointer and point to the letter T on their mats as they say t. Ask the student to move his/her after (right) hand to the letter after T. Ask the student to name the letter after T. Then ask the student to say in a sentence: “U comes after T.” Continue through 4 or 5 more letters with the same process.


8. How Many Letters?
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Ask student to put fingers on first letter, A, and count together the number of letters in the alphabet. (26) Ask them to name the first letter (A), the last letter (Z) and the middle 2 letters (M, N).

9. Hot Potato (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: The teacher quickly says a random letter; the student repeats the letters as s/he quickly points to the letters.
Extension: Teacher gives the sound of a letter and the student quickly echoes the sound, names the letter, and points to the letter.


10. Alphabet Conversation
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: Student touches and names the letters of the alphabet and says them like they were asking a question after every other letter.
Model: AB? CD? EF? GH? IJ? KL? MN? OP? QR? ST? UV? WX? YZ?
Extension: Alphabet Chorus: 2 or more students are needed for this activity. The teacher is the choir director. The teacher will hold up 1-4 fingers and point to one group of students. That group will touch and name the number of letters that the “choir director” has fingers showing. The choir director will point to the next group and hold up 1-4 fingers. The group will point to the next letters on the alphabet arc and name the number of letters indicated by the “choir director”.


11. Popcorn
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat
Activity: The students sit in a circle. The teacher tosses a beanbag to a student and the student says the next letter in the alphabet. (Option: Students can give keyword and sound of letters studied.)


12. Letters/Keywords/Sounds
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Instant association of letter with sound
Materials: Lowercase alphabet mats (front or back)
Activity: Students daily place writing finger on boxes with letters/keywords/sounds and say letter name, keywords and sounds. Begin reviewing in alphabetical order and then progress to a random review during which the teacher, leader or a student calls out a letter. The students place their finger on that box, echo the letter, name the keywords, and make the sound. Be careful not to put the sound (uh) at the end of consonant sounds. (ex. (b) and not (buh).
Extension: Leader calls out a letter and the student answers with the keyword and sound. Reverse this activity to reinforcement spelling by the leader calling out the sound and the student naming the keyword and letter name.
Keywords:

Aa: Albert Alligator holds an apple. /a/
Bb: Brian bumblebee bats the blue ball. /b/
Cc: See Cameron Cat in a canoe and a catfish, too. /k/
Dd: Dirty Daisy Dog digs a ditch. /d/
Ee: Eddie Elephant exercises. /e/
Ff: Frankie Frog has a funny flashlight. /f/
Gg: Guppy Goldfish golfs. /g/
Hh: Hal Hippo is a hockey star. /h/
Ii: Isabelle Iguana is an iceskater. /i/
Jj: Jolly jellyfish enjoys jam. /j/
Kk: Katy kangaroo kicks and kicks. /k/
Ll: Leo Lion licks lemon lollipops. /l/
Mm: Morris Mouse is a mighty magician. /m/
Nn: Nine eggs in the little nest? No! 1,2,3 /n/
Oo: Oscar Octopus says /o/.
Pp: Polly Parrot baked a pumpkin pie. /p/
Qq:
Quiet Quail walks quickly. /kw/
Rr: Rita Rabbit raises two real roses. /r/
Ss: Silly Spider spins a silky spider web. /s/
Tt: Tony turtle tells time. /t/
Uu: The ugly umbrella is up. /u/
Vv: Vince Valentine plays the violin. /v/
Ww: Willy Worm wiggles in the warm sun. /w/
Xx: Max Fox sits in the box. /ks/
Yy: Yo Yak yanks his yo-yo back. /y/
Zz: Zelda Zebra zips the big zipper. /z/


13. Finger Exercises (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats
Activity: As student names the letters of the alphabet, s/he writes the letter on an imaginary chalkboard in the air using just the index finger of his/her writing hand. (Option: Student can write the letter on the palm of his/her not writing hand with the finger of his/her writing hand while saying the letter.)


14. I Spy with My Eye (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Letter-sounds
Materials: Alphabet mats
Activity: Take turns naming something in the room that begins with each letter of the alphabet starting with a and continuing in alphabetical order.

15. Making Beautiful Music (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats
Activity: Designate one or more students as the high voices and one or more students as the low voices. When the high group is pointed to, they will say as many letters in their high voices as the leader holds up fingers. When the low group is pointed to, they will say as many letters in low, deep voices as the leader holds up fingers.
Option: Students can say one letter every time the teacher lowers a finger while pointing at them in the same rhythm and speed as the finger is being lowered. Practice with a few letters to ensure class understands. Say the alphabet Making Beautiful Music.

16. Snap and Clap (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Letter-sounds
Materials: Alphabet mats
Activity: Student repeats the letters of the alphabet clapping when they say a consonant letter and snapping when they say a vowel. (Point out that consonants are blue and vowels are red on the mats.)

17. On Your Back! (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Capital alphabet mats and capital letters.
Activity: Student chooses a partner. The first student in the pair picks a letter from the container and does not show it to the other student. The student who picked the letter draws the letter on the back of the other student with his/her finger. The student tries to guess the letter that is being drawn on his/her back. They trade turns after the letter is guessed.


18. Turn-over
(back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats
Activity: Write a letter on the board and the first student starts with that letter of the alphabet. Each student says a letter going in alphabetical order (Teacher writes S on the board and the students go down the line with each student saying only 1 letter STUVWXYZABC…) until the teacher says, “Turn-over!” and writes a new letter on the board. The next student begins again starting with letter on the board. Each student has an alphabet mat in front of him/her.


19. Make the Arc
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats and letters
Activity: The student places the letters in the center of his/her mat and turns the letters right side up. Student is led to find the first letter of the alphabet (A) and place it on the arc at the bottom of the mat. Then the student is led to find and place each letter of the alphabet on the arc on the mat on top of the matching letter. After placing the 26 letters, the student touches and names the 26 letters again. As student places the letters back into the bag, student says the letter names again. If a student continues having difficulty, pair that student with a stronger student. When the stronger finishes his/her arc, s/he helps the weaker student by pointing to the letter on the arc. The weaker student names and finds the letter.
Extension: When a student is ready, the mat is turned over to the back and the student places the letters on the arc in order without matching.

20. Who Am I? (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mat, capital letters
Activity: The teacher or leader places a plastic capital letter in each student’s hand behind the student’s back. The student tries to figure out the letter s/he has by the feel.


21. Lettero
(back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Capital letter alphabet mats and capital letters
Activity: Each student picks 9 letters from his/her set of letters. If student has difficulty counting to 9, count together and pick letters while counting. Student places a letter in each square of the grid on the mat. The teacher/leader draws letters from a bag of letters and shows the class the letter or writes the letter on the board. When a letter is called, students push that letter to its place on the arc. When a student has all 9 letters called, the student calls, “Lettero.”


22. Sound off
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Capital letter alphabet mats and capital letters
Activity: Each student chooses 9 letters and places them in the grids on his/her alphabet mat. The leader draws a letter out of his/her bag and says the keyword and sound (not the name of the letter). If student has the letter that makes that sound, s/he moves the letter to the strip at the top of the mat. Play continues until a student has all 9 letters drawn. The student says, “Sound-off!”

23. What’s Missing (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats and letters
Activity: The student places the letters in the center of his/her mat and turns the letters right side up. Student is led to find the first letter of the alphabet (A) and place it on the arc at the bottom of the mat. Then the student places each letter of the alphabet on the arc on the mat. After placing the 26 letters, the student touches and names the 26 letters again. Students now work in pairs. One student closes his/her eyes and the other student removes a letter from the arc and holds it so the other student cannot see it. The student opens his/her eyes and “proofs” the arc to find out which letter has been taken. The letter is returned when it is guessed and the other student gets a turn. As student places the letters back into the bag, s/he says the letter names again. (This game increases in difficulty by the student taking up to 4 letters from the arc and the other student guessing the 4 missing letters.)


24. Capital to Lower Case Matching
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Lower case mats and lower case letters
Activity: The student places the letters in the center of the mat and turns the letters right side up. Student finds and places each letter of the alphabet on the letter/keyword/sound boxes on the front of the mat. After placing the 26 letters, the student touches and names the 26 letters again. Student names letters as s/he puts them in the bag.


25. Twenty Questions
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats and letters
Activity: The student places the letters in the center of his/her mat and turns the letters right side up. Student finds and places each letter of the alphabet on the arc on the mat. After placing the 26 letters, the student touches and names the 26 letters again. The leader picks a letter out of a bag and the class guesses the letter. The only answers the teacher can give are “yes” or “no.” They can ask if the letter is in the first half of the alphabet or they can ask if it is a vowel or a consonant; but they want to guess the letter in as few questions as they can. Lead them to ask questions. As you answer, students put eliminated letters back in their bags. This game requires scaffolding in the beginning if students do not know how to ask questions. Count the number of questions and graph each time students play. The goal is to discover the letter in the fewest number of questions.

26. Spelling (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Letter-sounds
Application of letter-reading and spelling
Materials: Lower case alphabet mats and lower case letters
Activity: The student places the letters in the center of the mats. Student finds and places each letter on the arc. The student touches and names the 26 letters again. Ask students to find the letter a and put it in a grid in the center of their mat. Now ask them to put the t in the grid after the a and read the word. Ask student to add letter to make sat. Change sat to pat, pit, sit, pit, tip, tin, tan, nat, not, nut, cut, cot, cat. Only change one letter with each new word. Ask student to place the letters back into the bag, saying the letter names again.
Extension:

a.

Practice spelling cV words using: no, go, so, wo, we, be, he, me.
b. Practice spelling Vr words using: car, far, bar, jar, mar, tar, par, park, bark, mark, lark, dark, hark, hard, lard, card, cart.

or: or, nor, for, fork, cork, corn, born, horn, morn, corn, cord, ford, fort, forth, north

wor: work, word, worm, world, worst
c. Practice spelling Vce words using: ate, date, fate, gate, hate, late, rate, mate, made, fade, face, lace, mace, race, pace, pane, cane, lane, mane, name, came, dame, fame, game, lame, same, tame, time, dime, lime, rime, rite, bite, bide, hide, tide, ride, rice, dice, lice, mice, nice, rice, price, pride, bride, bide, bode, rode, code, cone, bone, lone, tone, tote, note, vote, use, fuse, fume, fune, dune, tune
d. Practice spelling VV words. Write ee on a small piece of paper and use in spelling: feet, meet, beet, sheet, sheep, deep, keep, keel, feel, feed, heed, need, reed, seed, weed, wee, see, bee, fee

Write oo on a small sheet of paper. Tell student the sound (oo) like in book. Practice spelling the sound using: book, look, took, cook, hook, hood, stood, good
e. Multiple syllable words can be spelled one syllable at a time. Ask students to say magnet. Now ask them to say the first syllable: mag. Help them to break it down into sounds and move a marker for each sound in the first syllable. Then move the corresponding letter for each sound below the marker. Next say the second syllable and lead the students to break the second syllable into sounds. Have them move a marker into the top row of boxes to represent each sound. Then have them move the corresponding letters below the sound markers. When students are ready, they can write the letters in the bottom row of boxes.
f. Students sign the letters as they spell words.

27. Battle (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Capital letter alphabet mats and capital letters
Activity: Students play in pairs. Each student picks one letter from his/her bag and names the letter. The student whose letter is closer to Z, says, “I win because ___ is closer to Z than ___. The student with the winning letter puts his/her letter on the alphabet strip at the top of the mat. The student with the losing letter puts his/her letter at the bottom of his/her mat. The student with the most letters at the end of the game is the winner.


28. Auditory Sequential Memory
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats and letters
Activity: The student places the letters in the center of the mat and turns the letters right side up. Student finds each letter of the alphabet and places it on the arc on the mat. After placing the 26 letters, the student touches and names the 26 letters again. The teacher says a series of 2-7 letters (not in alphabetical order). Student repeats and picks up letters and places them in his/her bag. Student does not pick up letters while they are being named.


29. Four in a Row
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Alphabet mats and letters
Activity: Students play in pairs. The pair has 1 set of plastic capital letters. Each student has a container or a “shield” to hide his/her letters from the other student. Each student closes his/her eyes and picks 7 letters and places them where the other student cannot see them. The goal is to get 4 consecutive letters is a row (alphabetical order—ABCD). The remaining letters are in a pond. The first player discards one letter to the pond and takes one letter from the pond. The first player to get “4 in a Row” says “4 in a Row!” and shows his/her 4 letters.


30. Dominos
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Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: Capital letter alphabet mats and capital letters
Activity: One set of letters is given to a pair of students. The students place the letters in the center of a mat and turn the letters right side up. Students place M and N and on the arc. Students close their eyes and pick 5 letters each. MN is the “spinner domino.” The first student must play the letter before or after MN (LMNO). If the student does not have L or O, then s/he goes to the “bone yard” and takes the needed letter and plays it. Each player can only play one letter during a turn. If the needed letter is not in the “bone yard,” the student takes no letter and misses his/her turn. The goal is to be the first player to play all of his/her letters.


31. Letters Up-7up
(back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Letter-sound
Materials: 1 set of capital letters
Activity:

Seven students start out at the front of the room. The rest of the students are given 1-2 capital letters. Students at their seats close their eyes and hold up one letter. The students who are “up” take one letter from one student. When all seven have taken a letter, the leader says, “Heads up! 7 Up!” The students who are seated hide their letters. Students at their seats take turns calling on students who are “up.” When a student who is “up” is called on, s/he must do an action that starts with the sound of the letter that s/he took. If the student can guess the action and the letter was taken from that student, then the student who is up sits down and the one who guessed is now up.


32. Alphabetizing (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: 5 index cards
Activity: Write on index cards: ant, bear, cat, dog, elephant Ask students how the room is organized. Are books and toys and paper put in the same box? Or do books go in one place and papers in another? Why? Let them discover that alphabetical order is the same way. It is organizing words so we can find them quickly. Guide class to put the 5 words in alphabetical order by the first letter.


33. Dictionary
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Objective: Instant letter recognition Alphabet as a sequencing tool Dictionary use
Materials: Dictionary
Activity: Lead students to discover that dictionaries are in alphabetical order. Write the word dog on the board and tell students to look at the first letter of the first word. Ask students where this letter is in the alphabet? If the word begins with this letter, where would the word be in the dictionary? Would the word be in the first or second half of the dictionary? Discuss the first letter of the word and ask a student to open the dictionary to where they think the word might be. Show the students guidewords and lead students to use first letter of the word to decide if they should go toward the front or back of the dictionary. Locate 2-3 words.

34. My Book of Words (back to top)

Objective: Instant letter recognition
Alphabet as a sequencing tool
Materials: (7) 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper folded in half and stapled plus colored paper for the cover.
Activity: Students write a title (Jane’s Dictionary or Bryan’s Book of Words) on the cover and their name as the author and illustrator. Write one letter of the alphabet (capital and lower case) on each page and draw or paste pictures that begin with that letter. Title page: title, their name as author and illustrator.

More alphabet activities can be created or found at websites such as www.enchantedlearning.com/categories/preschool.shtml

Nixon Education Services Inc; PO Box 46; Spencerville, MD 20868-0046
alphabetmats@gmail.com